Thursday 29 November 2018


As Desert Psychlist has stated in the past one of the best things about this whole reviewing lark is when something suddenly comes out of the ether, seemingly from nowhere, and blows you right out of your socks. This is how it felt today when, while perusing the latest releases on Bandcamp's "Heavy Psych" pages, Desert Psychlist came across an interesting piece of artwork and decided to delve a little deeper, what we discovered was a little gem of swirling heavy psych from a band called Hypermortal.
HypermortalTravis Baker (drums and percussion), Daniel Glascock (bass, vocals, sitar, synthesizers) and Samuel Piper (guitar), hail from Lawrence, Kansas and have just released one of the most interesting and exhilarating "psych" releases of this rapidly dwindling year with "The Motive Power of Fire"

"The Motive Power of Fire" begins in mystic eastern style with "Lapis Lazuli" a sprawling ten minute opus full of  swooping, swishing synthesesiser that swirls dervish-like around an insistant vocal mantra, the band taking off on a hundred and one different tangents, incorporating as they do so a heady mix of gentle tinkling percussion and dissonant guitar colouring. "Entropy" follows, a song with a strong Spirit vibe that would of had the late Randy California grinning like a loon in admiration. "Microchip" is up next its stuttering bass heavy groove is complimented by smooth slightly echoed vocals and an array of superbly executed guitar solo's. "Gulf of Pestilance" ramps up the bands psych quotient with an instrumental that although tethered by Baker and Glascock's solid underlying bass and drum groove really reaches for the stars in the guitar department with times sounding like he's discovered a whole new music scale. The band change tac a little for next track "Space and Time", initially diving into a bluesy psych groove decorated with an ultra cool vocal melody then closing out with a spacey psych jam. "The Void" rounds up "The Motive Power of Fire" and finds the band hitting into a gritty, jerky and addictive spluttering groove that at only two minutes thirty five seconds finishes far too soon.

Hypermortal's "The Motive Power of Fire" takes the 60's psychedelic experimentations of bands like the The Byrds, Spirit and Quicksilver Messenger Service and blend them with the gritty, heavier dynamics of more modern psych bands like Seven That Spells and Druid, creating a sound and groove that is both lysergic and fluid yet at the same time solid and heavy.
Check it out …..

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 27 November 2018


Usually, when reviewing a band hailing from Norway, Desert Psychlist starts off with a little verbal riffing about how underground rock music from that country has a quirky, off centre dynamic. This time around we can't really use that tried and tested intro as the band in question, Captain Caravan, are a straight down the line stoner/classic/hard rock combo with more bite than a Grey Wolf, something you can check out for yourselves by spinning their debut album "Shun The Sun" (Vinyl release via Cursed Tongue Records, due 2019, digital formats available now via Bandcamp, Spotify and all the usual digital outlets)

"Old school" is a term we all use from time to time to describe music that has it's roots in the past and there is no denying that the grooves executed by Captain Caravan on "Shun The Sun"  have a very distinctive 70's vibe, however that is not something to be ashamed of within the stoner/hard rock fraternity, in fact given that the whole stoner rock scene and its many offshoots has been founded on what has gone before means being called "old school" could now very well be considered a badge of honour. Captain Caravan, Geir Solli (bass), Johnny Olsen (vocal), Morten Skogen (drums) and BK Sæstad (guitar). make no bones about the influences that have formed their sound and nor, as listeners, should we. especially as the sound these guys make together is some of the finest heavy "classic" orientated rock that has come out of Norway in a long time.. Another feather in the bands cap is managing to get studio maestro and Wo Fat guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump to put the finishing touches to "Shun The Sun", his renowned mixing skills giving songs like "Illusion of Meaning", "Zombie Machine" and "Book of Oblivion" not only a huge bombastic feel but also a clarity often not associated with albums released under the underground rock banner. Musicianship throughout "Shun The Sun" is of the highest calibre with sterling performances from all involved,  Sæstad's guitar when not tearing out searing solo's splutters and crunches with raucous chordal colouring while Solli's booming growling bass,combines with Skogen's punchy, powerful percussion to form a backdrop of solid. tight rhythm many bands would give their right arms for. Over this groovalicious foundation of swaggering heavy rock Olsen contributes gritty strong and powerful vocals, telling the bands stories with unbridled passion in tones dripping with gravitas.

Captain Caravan's "Shun The Sun" may be considered "old school" heavy rock and it may have its roots set in a era long past but honestly there are moments here when Captain Caravan's "old school" out shines some of those "old school" bands back when they were the "new school" if that makes any sense!
Check it out …. 

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Monday 26 November 2018


Wilkes- Barre. Pennsylvania trio Gods of Space, Matt Hannon (bass), Tommy Pudimott (drums) and Jacob Waxmonsky (guitars/vocals), are what some might call an epic doom band, however the doom Gods of Space bring to the table is unlike anything you may have heard before in this genre, something their latest release "Til Human Voices Wake Us" more than bears testimony to.

The core of Gods of Space's musical attack has its foundations set firmly in the ground once ploughed and tilled by the likes of Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus and Lord Vicar, a deep dark and dank doom sound with a gothic edge that often gets labelled as "epic"or "traditional". Gods of Space are, however, a child of the now rather than the then and so the trio bring things up to date by filling their atmospheric grooves not with stories of demon's, witches and sacrificial altars but with tales that are relevant to the world we live in today, or as the band themselves put it .."Tales of mankind causing chaos, madness, and ruin unto themselves while losing touch with what make us human.". 
From the deep droning intro of "Beyond The Time Barrier" through to the Floydian tinted atmospheric instrumental "Infinite Burn Ride" listeners are treated to a masterclass in modern traditional/epic doom with scorching guitar solo's, deep reverberating bass lines, complex percussive patterns and strong gothic tinted vocals all coming together to paint swirling portraits of a world staring skywards at the stars while standing on a planet in turmoil.

Epic/traditional doom is not so much "in vogue" these days but Gods of Space don't give a rats ass what is "in vogue". The band, with "Til Human Voices Wake Us", drag the sub genre's decaying body out of the dark recesses it has been hiding in and, with the help of a little Hawkwind-esque spacial swirl, breath renewed life into it. 
Check it out …. 

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Sunday 25 November 2018


Mexico's Comanchet count among their influences such hard rock and metal luminaries as Mastodon, Red Fang, Whores, High On Fire and of course Black Sabbath so it comes as no surprise that Comanchet's latest release "CXXXVIII" references some of those influences in its grooves. Comanchet however are no fools and are not a band content to just mimic the sound of their heroes, over the course of the four songs that makeup "CXXXVIII" they prove that even if a band is, to some extent, a product of its influences its music can still sound fresh, vital and exciting.

Slow, low and dialled in dank is the first impression, as "CXXXVIII's" first track "Desconocido" lurches menacingly out of the speakers, but then the tempo increases and the song moves from doomic into something a little more proto-metallic and stonerized that is then overlaid with thick, deep throaty vocals (sang in Spanish). "Garabato" takes the doomic qualities of the previous track and ramps them up ten fold by adding a touch of stonerized metallic oomph to the mix along the way while third track "Taarna" finds Comanchet shifting into full on stoner mode with a groove that swings harder than a piñata in a wind tunnel. The band finish off proceedings with "Aquelarre" a song that pulls all the Comanchet's influences into one song, the band cramming elements of metallic prog, swampy sludge and whatever else they can find into just under six minutes of mind-blowing and intense heavy groove.

Music as good , as exciting and as groovalicious as Comanchet's "CXXXVIII" cannot be, should not be, held back by borders or fences. Mr Trump might build a wall to try to stop the Mexican people from crossing into the USA but music this good will always find its way over.
Check it out …..

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Friday 23 November 2018


Craneium, Andreas Kaján (vocals & guitars), Martin Ahlö (vocals & guitars), Joel Kronqvist (drums) and Jonas Ridberg (bass), have been about, in one form or another, since 2011 and in that time the Finnish combo have earned a reputation as a solid go to for mellow sounding desert/stoner rock with a little bit of bite in its back pockets. Their latest release "The Narrow Line"(Ripple Music) finds the band expanding their reputation further with an album that not only will please those denizens of the underground rock scene but if the wind blows in the right direction could even see them pulling in a few listeners from the mainstream.

Craneium deal in fuzzy stoner rock but are not a band who are going to make your ears bleed with the sheer volume of their grooves. they are also a band who toy with elements of psych and doom but again these guys are not going to take you the outer extremes of the cosmos or summon up a demon, Craneium are a band who attack you with stealth rather than bludgeoning you over the head, the quartet laying down grooves that creep up on their listeners slowly, seducing them with a unique blend of crunching riffage and gentle melodies that they then overlay with clean mellow harmonies. This is not to say that Craneium don't rock out, there are moments on "The Narrow Line" where the band kick out the jams with raucous abandon, it's just that their rocking out has a more tempered, almost considerate dynamic that makes a pleasant change from the usual in your face attack we tend to come across in the underground rock scene. There were times during listening to "The Narrow Line" that 70's cult icons Wishbone Ash came to mind, not in sound but in the structure of songs like "I'm Your Demon" and "The Soothsayer", the band balancing out the more grittier elements of their sound with a more gentle approach adding to those elements of doom and psych, mentioned earlier, a melodic sometimes almost folk-rock edge.

Like Wishbone Ash could be considered the "Yang" to the "Ying" of bands like Sabbath and Zeppelin then it could also be argued that Craneium might also be considered the equivalent "Yang" to the likes of say Mothership or Graveyard, still as relevant just a little mellower. "The Narrow Line" is, in Desert Psychlist's humble opinion, Craneium's best release to date and in a perfect world should see them reaching a wider international audience, whether that will happen is in the lap of the gods but if it does then they, on the strength of this album, more than deserve it.
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Monday 19 November 2018


When Cypriot psychonauts Arcadian Child quietly released their debut album "Afterglow" in 2017 they were not expecting the levels of appreciation and praise about to be heaped upon them by the movers and shakers of the underground press, it seemed that everyone and their dog was digging what these sons of Limassol were attempting with their diverse blend of psych, prog and hard rock. Now all this appreciation and praise does cause a problem for a band, a level of expectation now arises and those that hailed your last release are expecting, if not something more magnificent, then at least something on an equal par. Well that time has come around and Arcadian Child are about to release their second album "Superfonica" (Ripple Music, 23 November 2018) so let's see what they've got....

"Bain Marie" kicks off "Superfonica", its initial retro sounding guitar intro heralding a pulsating, throbbing psychedelic groove interspersed with swirling guitar motifs over which effortless clean mellow and smooth vocals, not so much soar, but float majestically. "Twist Your Spirit" follows and already Desert Psychlist is warming to the direction this latest album is taking especially when the songs strident hard rock groove suddenly morphs into heady laid back ambience with its violining guitar effects giving proceedings a sweeping orchestral feel. "Brothers", "Constellations" and "Painting" all follow much the same heady lysergic paths with the latter boasting an absolutely stunning vocal, "She Flows" steers a little too close to Coldplay territory at times but that is only a minor quibble and the band more than make up for that with the albums next two tracks "Before We Die" and "The March", the former an atmospheric slow grower delivered in hushed vocal tones over swirling guitars and an insistent rhythmic beat, the latter taking things to a close on an Eastern tinted groove underpinned by liquid bass, tribal percussion and Arabian flavoured guitar colouring all coated in an uber delicious vocal.

"Afterglow" was always going to be a hard act to follow but Arcadian Child have stepped up to the plate with "Superfonica" and knocked the ball way out of the park, stunning stuff!
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Sunday 18 November 2018

HOLY GROVE ~ II ...... review

The fact that it took four years before Portland, OR's Holy Grove got around to releasing their self titled debut "Holy Grove" says a lot about this bands commitment. Not prepared to rush into anything they might regret later, the band gigged around their native Portland earning a reputation as a must see live band while all the time working hard on writing songs that not only meant something to them but also translated to their growing audience. "Holy Grove" was released to much anticipation and that anticipation was rewarded with an absolutely mind blowing album, a tour-de-force of bluesy swagger and doomic stoner splendour that garnered praise in all the right quarters. Two years later, with a new drummer behind the traps Holy Grove, are back with a new opus "Holy Grove II" (Ripple Music) so lets see how far they've raised the bar with this one.

The fact that Holy Grove managed to recruit legendary producer/engineer Billy Anderson to oversee the recording of "Holy Grove II" says a lot about how well regarded this band are within the underground rock scene, Anderson's CV includes such notables as The Melvins, Sleep and Agolloch and here he puts his mark on things by giving "II" an organic, almost live feel, a feel totally in keeping with the bands reputation as a potent live force. Anderson's engineering/production skills aside what makes "II" tick is the strength of its songs, from the titanic and turbulent "Blade Born" through the shapeshifting grooves of "Solaris" to the sprawling epic doomic splendour of "Cosmos" not a musical note or vocal inflection is wasted  Andrea Vidal's soaring, impassioned vocals are a revelation throughout "II" the vocalist effortlessly switching from a powerful bluesy holler to a sultry whisper in a instant, her voice as much a well tuned instrument as it is a force of nature. Beneath this tour-de-force of vocal gymnastics Gregg Emley (bass) and Eben Travis (drums) shift up and down through the gears laying down a diverse array of rhythmic grooves that sway between complex and primal allowing Trent Jacobs room to fill in the spaces with a mixture of dark chordal colouring and sweeping blues infused guitar solo's, the three complimenting Vidal's superb powerhouse vocals with a series of intense and equally powerful musical backdrops.

Photo by James Rexroad.

There are those that might think that for a band that has been around since 2012 two full albums in six years is not such a great return! Those people would be wrong, some things in life are worth waiting for especially when those things turn out to be as spine tingling wonderful and as essential as "Holy Grove II"!
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Tuesday 13 November 2018


Chris Cappiello (bass), Kevin Flynn (drums), Ed Grabianowski (vocals) and Richard Root (guitar) are Spacelord a four piece force of nature hailing from Buffalo, New York who describe themselves as "four beings of pure cosmic energy who came to Earth and chose, out of all the possibilities, to take the forms of four dudes with shitty beards". Now in the beards Desert Psychlist cannot comment on but that "cosmic energy" is something that can certainly be felt running right through each of the eight songs that make up the bands third release and second full length album "Indecipher"

A deliciously booming bass line surrounded by screaming feedback heralds the arrival of "Indecipher's" first track "For The Loved Ones" then the drums kick in and the vocals enter and its lift off to both a song and an album that references classic/hard rock as much as it does it's more weed blasted hard rocking stoner cousin. Space themed songs fill "Indecipher" from start to finish, however the sound Spacelord create is sonically closer to the hard rock of Montrose's "Space Station #5" than it is to the "Space Is Deep" meanderings of those cosmonauts of space-rock Hawkwind. The band utilise everything from the blues through to desert rock to fill out their grooves and boast a vocalist in Grabianowski who could easily hold his own with not only the aforementioned Montrose's Sammy Hagar but also those with names like Plant, Rodgers and Dio! The rest of the band are no slouches either with Root crunching out gritty hard rock chords, Zeppelin-esque bluesy voicings and earth scorching solo's, while underneath Cappiello and Flynn keep things solid and steady with growling deep bass and pounding Bonham-esque drumming, the whole coming together to deliver one quality song after another.

Top notch grooves from beginning to end without even a whiff of filler, "Indecipher" is Spacelord's best release to date and promises much for the future.
Check it out …. 

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Sunday 11 November 2018


Strange how the mind works while preparing an intro for a review, for example Desert Psychlist started wondering, during the course of this review, if the late radio engineer Glenn Snoddy knew exactly what he was unleashing when he created the very first fuzz/distortion pedal? Did he have any idea how that little box of tricks was going to change the sound of popular music and go on to become the go-to pedal for so many guitarists within, not only rock, but also many other forms of music. Why do we mention this now, you maybe thinking, well no reason really except for the fact that it got us thinking that without Mr. Snoddy's little invention, and its various versions, albums like Mexican groovesters Artesano De Piedra's, excellent three part musical suite, "Paterna Nuntius"and many others would be very different sonic animals altogether.

Simplicity is an often overlooked commodity within music but it is a fact that some of the most enduring tunes recorded during the last fifty years have been those based around a catchy hook or riff, songs with recurring motifs that worm their way under the skin and stay there. Artesano De Piedra, Jose Maldonado (guitars, fuzz, bass, drums and vocals) and Aldape - (bass), understand this concept and although the sixteen minute plus opus that makes up "Paterna Nuntius" in no way can be described as simple it does have a basicness to its grooves that grabs you and keeps you grabbed. Now you the reader may be thinking all this talk of simplicity and basicness is a little derogatory and a veiled criticism but far from it, Artesano De Piedra use these elements to their advantage layering their ear grabbing riff's one on top of the other, moving from one to the other, and keeping the listeners interest, with a mixture of subtle and drastic time signatures and clever use of dynamics in volume, something that is particularly effective on "Levelling Stones" the instrumental movement that opens "Paterna Nuntius" . On the albums second movement, "Ancestral Message", the band add into this equation clean mellow, yet totally effective, vocals sandwiched between huge swathes of swollen dark riffage while movement three, "The Traveller", finds the duo utilising an array of guitar effects, over a backdrop of thundering percussion, to fill out the groove and frame the songs well pitched and executed vocals.

There are times while listening to "Paterna Nuntius" that Desert Psychlist was reminded of both Sleep and Black Sabbath, Sleep due to the Mexican duo's same ability to jam endlessly on a single riff, Sabbath because of the album's sudden shifts in time and use of volume as a dynamic. You, the listener, might hear something completely different but hey that's the beauty of music, no two people hear the same thing, Whatever you hear there is no denying that the fuzz is strong in this one, wonder what Glenn Snoddy would have made of it all?
Check it out …..

© 2018 Frazer Jones

Friday 2 November 2018


Bedfordshire, England is probably not the most rock'n'roll place in the world, in fact a quick scan of well known Bedfordshire born musicians on the internet only revealed one minor boy band member and the original Jethro Tull guitarist (Mick Abrahams) as its musical representatives. Bedfordshire, or more accurately Bedford, however is the home of the subject of this review Black Atlas, a four piece combo with influences ranging from Black Sabbath through Corrosion of Conformity to Fu Manchu. Black AtlasMikey Ward (Vocals/Guitar), Peter Hunt (Guitar), Simon Wilson (Bass) and James Lane (Drums), come from a variety musical backgrounds but bonded on a love of good old fashioned fuzz heavy hard rock something that fills every nook and cranny of their debut album "Weight of the World".

Things start very positively with "I'm Not Dead", a wind effect accompanied by a voice asking for people to "bring out your dead" introduces the song before the hammer goes down and a flurry of drums heralds in the guitars and the song takes off on a stuttering heavily fuzzed groove. Vocals then enter, telling us in clean, slightly ragged tones of "a long dirty road" and "bridges burning down" over a backdrop of crunching chords, WHA pedal drenched solos and thundering rhythms. With hardly time to catch our breaths we are almost immediately thrown into next track "Paralyser" a song with a sludgier, denser, dirtier dynamic than its predecessor, a song that growls and snarls like a feral dog backed into a corner. This is how it rolls for much of the album with only the tranquil instrumental "Low Tides" and the bluesy classic rock of "Deadweight"and "Preacher" bringing relief from the heavy onslaught of deliciously distorted riffage and punishing, pounding rhythms that makes up the rest of the album.

As we mentioned in our intro piece Bedfordshire may not be the most rock'n'roll place on earth but, as Black Atlas' "Weight of the World" testifies to, when Bedfordshire does rock oh man IT ROCKS!
Check it out ….

© 2018 Frazer Jones